Fearless MD

It’s Mostly About Attitude

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Is your outlook on life aligned with one or more of these three figurative  phrases?

  • “Nice guys finish last”
  • “No good deed goes unpunished”
  • “Murphy’s Law rules the day (meaning anything that can go wrong will go wrong)”

It’s challenging to be productive, form new relationships, be a leader, or enjoy life if you have a negative attitude. We all have encountered friends or family members who try to convince us the sky is falling no matter how things go. I’m speaking of the perpetual glass as half empty person who rarely recognizes the good in circumstances, events, other people, or themselves.

There are times we all need to pause for an attitude check. Sometimes we need to look in the mirror to see what face we’re wearing. I’ve often been surprised by the grimace or scowl I’m sporting at a given moment, despite inwardly feeling pleased or sound at the time.

Sometimes we fail to self-examine our thoughts and feelings before conversing with one or more people. We may carry the grief or anger of the preceding hour or day into our interactions with others.

Here are some questions to ask yourself, followed by some action steps.

-How can you make lemonade from a lemon that just dropped in your lap?

-What can you learn from your mistake or mishap?

-What GOOD baggage can you carry away from a failure, an accident, a divorce, or failed relationship?

The good news is your attitude is not a fixed character trait. You can change your perspective, but it takes work.

  1. Realize and accept that your attitude needs an upgrade and create an “intent” to address it. Write this intention down in a journal or phone memo for future reference. Frequently gaze at it.

  1. Create a six-month attitude journal. Grade yourself each week to see how you have progressed with positive thinking. Try to journal daily about the good vs. bad events of the day—comment on what led to the destructive events and how they changed your day or behavior.

  1. Start each morning thinking of 5 things you are grateful to have. It can be anything, a person, a pet, an achievement, a job, the earth, etc. Try not to repeat the same things every day. Optional: list them in your journal. 

  1. Take time to reflect on at least three events in the past that wounded you. Search sincerely for how these events ultimately helped you, how you overcame them, and what you do differently now. Did it lead to a new understanding, a new person in your life, or a new job? For example, a policeman pulled me over years ago. He handed me a speeding ticket for driving ten mph over the speed limit through a school zone. I had a choice of accepting a hefty fine and subsequent mark on my record or attending a 4-hour driving school class on a Saturday (and paying a lesser penalty but no record). I was disgusted and felt victimized by the police and an obvious (to me) speed trap. By the way, it had been thirty years since my last speeding ticket. Little did I know, when attending the driver’s class, I would meet up with a friend I hadn’t seen in more than a decade. Furthermore, I learned some critical lessons about speeding and defensive driving that improved my driving skills and made me more mindful of safety.

  1. Consider meditation, at least 10 mins a day. Be mindful of your intent and focus your thoughts on your attitude upgrade before meditating. 

  1. Do a breathing exercise before meditating and whenever you feel yourself going negative. Stop! Step away from the negative.

  1. Ask a close friend to assist you for a month or two by pointing out times you may unknowingly be going negative. This allows a more accurate assessment of how you are doing.

Wouldn’t it be nice to awaken each day with a positive outlook and gratitude for the gift of being granted another day?

If you have trouble with all or most of the above suggestions, consider counseling or seeking advice from a health or life coach.

It’s time to discard attitudes supported by thought processes driven by this article’s first three bullet points.

We have no control over certain things, like the past, our genes, and other people’s behavior. But we can change our attitude and behavior and foster self-improvement, growth, and productivity.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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